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François Nars inside his new Melrose Avenue boutique

Artist in Residence

by Elizabeth Varnell | Angeleno magazine | November 27, 2012

François Nars’ Hollywood roots run deep. The French-born, New York-based founder and creative director of the makeup line that bears his name is known for his storied work with clients including Catherine Deneuve, Lauren Hutton and Anjelica Huston. He’s the mind behind some of the most compelling images of starlets since the silent era. And Nars continues to draw inspiration from films—the Deneuve vampire movie The Hunger led him to create the red-orange nail color Hunger, and 1939’s The Women sparked his Jungle Red polish. Now he’s established a brick-and-mortar connection with L.A. through his 1,500-square-foot Melrose Avenue boutique staffed with makeup artists that he’s trained. “The light in L.A. is so incredible,” he says. “That’s what we’re jealous of in the winter in New York when it’s dark by 3pm.”

For the Melrose space, Nars worked with Fabien Baron of New York design firm Baron & Baron. Both men say they share the same aesthetic. Baron explains that the two met on a Steven Meisel photo shoot years ago and they’ve worked together on everything from packaging to boutiques. Nars says of Baron, “He nails it quickly.” The L.A. space they created is open and airy to reflect its sunny location. Baron says that Nars “likes everything uncluttered.” Nars jokes that though he and Baron love Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s spare, modern look— “Fabien and I can go there very quickly”—he wanted the space to have a warm and inviting feel. To that end, the black and white shop has a cash wrap done in Jungle Red lacquer, and the back room evokes a living room, complete with a fireplace, for workshops and VIPs). The shop also has shelves filled with films and books curated by Nars. Look closely and you might be able to guess at his next movie-inspired color launch. 8412 Melrose Ave., L.A., 310.623.1730,